People who love their dogs consider them part of their families, but sometimes our best friends can pose a real danger to others. The greatest number of dangerous dog bite injuries comes from breeds that are known to be aggressive; such as American Pit Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers. Many dog owners agree that these breeds are not inherently dangerous, but that vicious dogs are instead created by improper dog handling or animal abuse. Whatever the reason for the attack, victims of dog bites may be scarred forever – both physically and emotionally.
About 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. according to the American Humane Association. Of this number, 800,000 people are victims of dog bites causing serious enough injuries that they require medical care. The care for these victims equates to more than $1 billion in insurance claims each year. A 2009 report issued by www.DogsBite.org shows that out of 88 deaths in a recent 3-year period, “pit bulls accounted for 59% followed by Rottweilers with 14% (of deaths).”
As compassionate Kansas City personal injury attorneys, we have seen firsthand the injuries inflicted on both dogs and humans caused by careless or inhumane treatment of dogs. Not only do dog-bite victims often suffer permanent scarring and emotional trauma, some injuries may be life threatening, especially for small children.
Both dog owners and those who may be potential victims can lower the risk of a dog bite occurring. Here are a few tips for being a responsible dog owner:
- Check with your homeowner’s insurance company to make sure you are insured if your dog injures someone
- Always keep your dog on a leash anytime it is outside.
- If your dog lives outdoors, make sure it is properly fed, watered, and sheltered in a secure area such as in a pen or behind a sturdy fence.
- Those who live in the Kansas City metro area in subdivisions or neighborhoods where there are many homes in close proximity should never let your dog roam free.
- If you do have a breed such as a pit bull or others known to be aggressive, use a muzzle when in a public area to ensure no one gets bitten if your dog is provoked in any way.
- Proper socialization as a puppy is key. Socializing your puppy removes much of the fear that causes aggressive behavior as an adult.
- When all else fails and you cannot control your dog’s bad behavior, seek out a reputable trainer who specializes in behavior issues.
- As a dog owner, warn others if your dog has a vicious propensity to bite other animals or people and keep them under tight control to avoid danger to others.
Conversely, here are safety tips for those who love dogs and want to interact with them:
- Never invade a dog’s personal space when it is eating or playing with its toy as dogs may become very protective of their food and toys.
- Ask the dog owner before you attempt to approach a dog to pet it.
- If you are given permission to pet a dog, let the dog sniff your hand and approach him/her in a calm manner. This will help remove any fear the dog may have; never approach a dog you are unfamiliar with in an aggressive manner, as the dog may perceive you as a threat.
- If you fear a dog is going to bite or attack you, do not run or shout, as the dog may view you as prey, which increases the risk of serious injury.
- Be mindful of children if they are playing with or petting a dog.
- Ultimately, it is important to treat strange dogs in a respectful manner.
It is important to know that if your dog should bite or attack someone, you can be held liable for costs associated with any injuries. Further, this may include not only past and future medical costs, but lost income, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.
All of the attorneys and staff in the office at Griggs Injury Law, LLC are dog owners and dog lovers. If you are the victim of a dog bite, contact our Kansas City lawyers today for outstanding legal guidance and support.